While it is wonderful to see such an outpouring of free online educational resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can also be overwhelming! A friend recently expressed:
I can’t handle one more homeschooling resource. Parents are getting inundated with ideas from schools and other parents. I’m on total overload.
Perhaps you can relate? I can! With this in mind, I’d like to offer this list of Top 10 resources I have personally checked out and vetted. Here is my criteria for each resource:
- Screen time needs to be limited and high quality. While there are definitely times I need a break and need my young children to be entertained without me having to do damage control every few minutes, I am NOT a fan of lots of screen time. Please hear me, there’s NO judgement here. We all have different standards and bad weather days necessitate sanity one way or another; desperate times call for desperate measures! I think we are ALL probably relying in screen time more than usual these days. HOWEVER, as much as possible, I want my kids to be interacting with real-life, concrete objects that allow them to learn in meaningful ways. When I do use screen time for educational purposes, I want it to be engaging, age-appropriate and I want it to reinforce what they are learning. I also want to get “the biggest bang for my buck” so to speak. If I’m limiting screen time, when I DO use it I want resources that are worthwhile and provide something I can’t do myself.
- Worksheets are okay every once in a while, but they need to be interactive and incorporate concrete materials whenever possible. You can get a worksheet ANYWHERE these days. My kids don’t need busy work; they need meaningful, tailored instruction (at the Kindergarten level) and lots of PLAY. So, without putting any sites down, I’ll just say that automated worksheets and generic math games don’t cut it for me; I’ve chosen NOT to incorporate any of those sites on this list.
- I’m pretty good with technology (mostly due to my husband’s influence), but if any site or app is hard to navigate or taking too long to load, I don’t have bandwidth for it. I need stuff that’s quick and easily accessible. Also, I don’t want to be interrupted a hundred times if my kid can’t figure out how to use it. So “USER-FRIENDLINESS” was part of my criteria. If a resource makes the cut to be on my list, it’s either easy-to-use or well worth a few minutes to set up an account.
- Another value when putting together this Top 10 list was diverse and comprehensive subject matter. As much as possible, I have tried to incorporate a variety of topics/subjects which include Social/Emotional development, Math, English/Language Arts, basic skills for learning to read, Physical Education/Movement, Music/Art and more.
- Finally, I’m a fan of resources that are personal and relational. Anything that facilitates person-to-person connection. In this time of social distancing, our kids need relational connection now more than ever. Normally Zoom sessions would not be my go-to form of social interaction, but in this season of staying at home due to Coronavirus, it has to be. With this value in mind, resources you will find on this list are ones that include a relational component and incorporate real life connection.
Alright, folks! Here it is: my TOP 10 LIST OF FREE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES FOR AGES 3-6 list. Feel free to share with others. Enjoy!
It’s hard to believe we only just discovered this amazing resource for Reading/Language Arts. Here’s an overview from the website: “Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Readers include Viola Davis, Chris Pine, Lily Tomlin, Kevin Costner, Annette Bening, James Earl Jones, Betty White and dozens more.” And if awesome stories read by amazing actors wasn’t enough, there are activity guides that accompany each story and provide a comprehensive look at ways to embed each story into instruction, guided by CCSS. I can’t rave enough about this site!https://mclass.amplify.com/homeconnect/ (teaching kids to read)
This site is one of the best I’ve come across for reading support in the 3-6 age range. It is in line with the National Reading Panel Association’s findings regarding the 5 essential components of effective reading instruction and engages parents/teachers in meaningful, easy-to-implement prompts for building and reinforcing important literacy skills.
This comprehensive site provides oodles of resources in all subject areas (including cooking with kid-friendly recipes!). And if you really need a worksheet, there are tons of free printables. One post that’s definitely worth checking out is this one: 50 Books Kindergartners Can Read Themselves
4. ActivEd (Walkabouts)
I am super impressed with the way these guys combine movement and learning (something we need FAR more of in education, in my humble opinion). According to the site, “Walkabouts are online, on-demand activities that bring educational standards to life with fun, kid-friendly movement.” I also LOVE that each walkabout is linked to CCSS in math and reading. While the link to standards may not matter as much for 3-4 yr old children, it’s a great help for our pre-K and K aged kids.
I have been a Tinkergarten fan for years now. They do an amazing job of combining social/emotional learning with the outdoors and curiosity. The hidden gem on their site is the activities menu, which provides a myriad of AWESOME activities. You can search by age or skill.
This dear, sweet, gifted teacher has two girls – one in preschool and one in kindergarten. She started this morning meeting style “Camp Kindergarten” as a way to offer structure and routine for her kids and some friends during the Covid-19 stay-at-home time. It has grown to a daily FB Live offering with over 79,000 members! It’s so beautiful to see this woman using her gifts and definitely worth checking out.
This is a great resource for kids of all ages! We have found it especially helpful when we are in the car or going to sleep at night. I feel that it helps my kids to engage their imaginations in a way watching a show can never provide. This is also a great calming tool for my kids (once they’ve had other opportunities to get their energy out). Audible is offering access to all kids’ stories for FREE as long as school is out.
This app provides personalized journeys of activities for parents to do with their kids in order to play, bond and help them grow. It is a helpful resource for ideas to incorporate in your day-to-day life with your kids. Growth activities are geared around the following areas:
- Gross Motor
- Fine Motor
- Executive Function
Free piano lessons? Yes, please! Joseph Hoffman teaches kids to play a song starting with the first lesson. Upgraded plans cost money, but the basic lessons are all free.
10. Mystery Science
I’m not much of a Science person. In fact, it’s probably the subject I feel least qualified to teach. When I was taking all the tests you have to take in order to be qualified as a teacher, this was the hardest area for me to pass! I poured a lot of study time and cramming into Science! Luckily, by some small miracle, I passed. But I still feel inadequate when it comes to teaching my kids Science, which is why I was so thrilled when a friend passed this resource along to me. I was even more thrilled to find my son was really digging it. Mystery Science provides engaging, 5-minute STEAM videos children can watch on their own. They also provide easy-prep activities you can do with your child at home.
Have you found any other sites that meet my criteria? If so, I’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below. Thanks!